Five Themes of Geography
Written and Illustrated by Phillip Martin
Five Themes of GeographyGeography is more than names, dates, capital cities and remote locations on maps.
Geographers organize space on a map in ways like historians organize time.
Five Themes of GeographyThere are five themes of geography that help geographers organize space. These themes answer the questions: Where is it? Why is it there? and What are the consequence of its being there?Five Themes of Geography
Five Themes of GeographyThe first of the five themes is Location.
Just like it sounds, when you talk about location, you mean a point or an area somewhere on the surface of the Earth.
Absolute location can be a street address or the latitude and longitude of a place. Its very specific.
The absolute location of New York City is:40 42' 51" N longitude74 0' 23" W latitude.
Five Themes of GeographyThe Relative location describes the location of a place with respect to other places and the environment.
New York City is on the eastern seaboard of the United State.
The City was built where the Hudson River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Big Apple is in the southeast corner of New York State.
Five Themes of GeographyThe second of the five themes is Place.
Place refers to the physical and human characteristics in a location.
Physical characteristics refer to mountains, rivers, animals, plants, forests, beaches, grasslands, bodiesof water, soil and topography of a spot.
Five Themes of GeographyHuman characteristics refer to the cultural features that people bring to an area. This includes the architecture, religion, food, population density, language patterns, politics, transportation and types of occupations.
One of the more unique locations in the United States due to its cultural features is New Orleans.
Five Themes of GeographyThe theme of Place helps to flesh out the information you have from Location.
Your school may be located at 1426 Main Street. Thats the Location. But, Place gives you the personality of the school. You learn about the number of classrooms, diversity of the population, whats in the broom closet, the kind of clothing students wear, the smells in the back of the kitchen, the football teams record and the test score youd rather forget.
Five Themes of GeographyThe third of the five themes is Human/Environment Interaction which includes three key concepts.
Humans depend on the environment. Your environment is made up of everything around you. It includes both living and non-living things. No matter where you live, you depend on your environment for food, shelter and clothing.
From the beginning of time, people migrated to find places with enough food, water and shelter for living.
Five Themes of Geography Humans modify the environment. People learned a long time ago how to modify the environment to better their lives. Tools from stone, bone and later metal were used to plow fields and irrigate crops.
People continue to this day to build homes, construct dams, farm with larger tools, and interact with the environment in both positive and negative ways.
Five Themes of Geography Humans adapt to the environment. People have managed to find ways to live in almost every corner of the planet. Some people have built their homes on poles to protect them from flooding.If you live in a cold location, most likely you have some kind of heating in your home.
If you are in a hot spot, you adapt with a fan, air conditioning or maybe some refreshing iced tea.
Five Themes of GeographyThe fourth of the five themes is Movement.
Humans move a lot. And, it isnt just people. Our ideas, products, fads and resources move around the planet.
The process of Movementcontinues to change. Consider how long it musthave taken Vikings to cross the ocean and how quickly it is done today.
Five Themes of GeographyYes, it is impossible to comprehend, but it wasnt so long ago that there were no smart phones, tablets, lap tops or even computers. Yikes!!! The Movement of communication continues at a rapid pace making it easier and faster to keep in touch with family and friends all around the world.
Five Themes of GeographyThe fifth of the five themes is Regions.
Regions are areas that have similar, unifying characteristics that can be physical, human, cultural or natural. And, its easy to contrast regions with other areas that may have different characteristics.
Regions may be determined by physical characteristics such as mountains, plains or deserts. The Louisiana Bayouis known for its swamps, baldcypress trees and gators.
Five Themes of GeographyRegions can be determined by their human characteristics as well. The densely populated East and West Coasts of the United States are very different from the lesser populated parts of the Prairie States.
Some regions are determined by both their physical and cultural characteristics. The Deep South, in the United States, is very different from the rest of the country. In the same way, Mediterranean life is not at all like life in northern Europe.
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